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Former police officer pleads no contest in 2003 incident

July 18, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -A former Martinsburg Police Department officer who was charged with slapping the face of a man being held in a police station holding cell last year pleaded no contest Friday to a misdemeanor charge of battery.

Kevin Mills, attorney for Jason D. Fornwalt, said after a hearing before Circuit Judge Christopher Wilkes that Fornwalt, under terms of the plea agreement, will pay a $50 fine, but will not spend any time in jail.

Wilkes entered the no contest plea for Fornwalt, Mills said.

Fornwalt told the judge that he wanted the case resolved so he could join the military.

Wilkes ordered a presentence investigation and scheduled sentencing for Sept. 10 at 9 a.m.

Fornwalt, 30, was accused of entering a holding cell on July 19, 2003, and slapping 22-year-old Andre Juste, according to a press release previously issued by Martinsburg Police Department Chief Ted Anderson.

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Fornwalt started working at the police department in 2002 and left in 2003. Anderson would not say if Fornwalt was fired.

Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely said at the time that the slapping incident was caught on camera. She said she believed other officers witnessed Fornwalt's behavior before the abuse, but she was not sure whether any of them saw the slap.

Juste was not injured, Games-Neely said.

Martinsburg Police Department Lt. Tim Catlett conducted an internal affairs investigation of the incident and Lt. John McMillen did a criminal investigation. McMillen's report led to Fornwalt's indictment on the battery charge.

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